Former colonel to exhibit at arts cafe

LOCAL EXHIBITION: Oliver Warman at his home in Axminster

AN Axminster man, who as a young officer helped guard war criminal Rudolph Hess, is to exhibit oil paintings at Axminster Arts Café.

Oliver Warman is a former colonel with the Welsh Guards, and a long-standing member of The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) and The Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI).

He was born in Wales but lived with his mother in Axminster during World War II. Mr Warman was educated at Stowe, Exeter and Oxford universities and Sandhurst.

He followed in the footsteps of his uncle (who was killed on the Somme) and his stepfather (who served in the 2nd Battalion during World War II) into the Welsh Guards.

Mr Warman embarked on a military career that would see him travel the world and work for the then Prime Minister.

He said: “I was married at 24 and within a few weeks was in Germany, often Berlin, helping to guard some of Hitler’s villains.

“This included Rudolph Hess, who I quite liked – he was different.

“We had a cup of coffee now and again. You have got to be civilised.

“A year later I was summoned by another Guardsman, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan [who was in office from 1957 until 1963], and since I had had to study Classics at Stowe and Exeter, I got the job as his military right hand man for four years.

“Most of the bad bits were dealing with unpleasant people from the Iron Curtain.” Mr Warman was also to work for the then NATO chief (Northern Army Group, 1966-1968) General John Hackett.

He said about the NATO chief: “A very dear man who, like the Prime Minister, had a double first at Oxford before the war.”

Mr Warman was based in West Germany and travelled all over Europe as part of the job, also finding time for painting and visiting the opera. His military career came to an end in his early 40s.

Mr Warman explained: “My general had had enough of the army and recommended that I had too at 43. “I had been elected to the RBA and ROI at 39, which got me up the painting ladder.

“Once on that vital ladder, I had paintings acquired by some of the Royal Family; the Sultan of Oman has five, the Emir of Kuwait has three, King Hussein has two.

“Most big banks in London have one or two as do Shell UK, a number of solicitors and the embassies in Stockholm and Buenos Aires.”

He has travelled the world selling his paintings and visiting exhibitions Based in Oxford for many years, he is now back in Devon, and said: “My adored wife died of cancer almost three years ago.

“I came back to Axminster because it was half the price of Oxford.

“But I take tutorials at my college there and miss terribly the Sunday morning Matins at Christchurch, the magnificent choir and the charming people.

“So here I am, having a very quiet, unsocial life in Axminster, attending church often here and in Whitchurch Canonicorum with its Christchurch-like choir.”

The exhibition at Axminster Arts Café will run from April 3rd until April 30th.

Chief Reporter | Started his working life on a farm before becoming a screen printer, both in Sweden. Had another career change and turned to journalism in the mid1990s. Enjoyed an internship with Alexandria Gazette Packet, Va, USA, before moving to the UK. Got a job with The Clarion in Yeovil in 1998, but moved to Axminster in 2006 and has worked on the East Devon beat since.